tv MSNBC Live MSNBC September 25, 2012 8:00am-9:00am PDT
today we must declare this this violence and intolerance has no place among our united nations. >> the president there wrapping up his speech at the u.n. topping the agenda, several fast moving political and diplomatic developments from president's speech before the u.n. to both candidates taking the stage today at the clinton global initiative. and this hour we'll hear live from mitt romney on his plans for education, his live sit down interview with brian williams just moments away. but first president's address happening as he comes under rapid fire overthe upheaval in the middle east. he condemned the videotape that sparked violence, but still defended the right of free speech. and just one hour after mitt romney took the president to task this morning at the clinton global initiative. >> i'll never apologize to america. i believe that america has been
one of the greatest forces for good the word has ever known. we can hold that knowledge in our hearts with humility and unwavering conviction. >> this follows 24 hours of the president being hammered by the right for the bump in the road remarks that he made about the middle east in the 60 minutes oig interview. >> there are extraordinary events going on in the middle east and considering them as bumps in the road shows a person who has a very different perspective as world affairs than the perspective i have. >> turn on the tv and it reminds you of 1979 tehran. but they're burning our flags in capitals all around the world. they're storming our embassies. we've lost four of our diplomats. and what is the signal that our government is sending the rest of the world? >> joining me now is traveling press secretary for the obama campaign. great to have you here. >> good morning. >> i want to remind everybody that if we need to interrupt and jump out of this because mitt romney will be sitting down with brian williams.
so i just want to give you fair warning that we may have to jump over to that. but as we have heard, everybody has been tough on the president and rudy giuliani was asked about the president not having any by lot ral melateral meetin planned and here's what he had to say. >> he's not doing the job of being president, he's doing the job of candidate. president obama has decided at a time grave crisis that he regards as bump in the road that he can take the time not to be president for the next six weeks and let it just play itself out p. >> as we look back over history in 2004, george w. bush held five bilateral meetings at the u.n., last year president obama had 13 one-on-one meetings. just using the president's own examples of meetings from last year, is this a missed opportunity to meet with the current leaders at the u.n. and also allow republicans the sclans to hammer him on foreign policy which was one of his strengths as president and on the campaign? >> as you know, i spend quite a
bit of time with the president out traveling around the country and i can tell that you protecting the american people, making sure we're continuing to improve our relationships in the world, having those conversations with world leaders, it's a core priority of his. and just the last few weeks alone, he's had about half a dozen calls with these same world leaders. a 24 hour span evaluating that in the meetings he has during a 24 hour span is hardly an eavailedation evaluation of the leadership and strength he's shown. this is a pathetic attack. >> the president's speech to the u.n. comes as iran has been firing test missiles today trying to flex its military muscle and the romney campaign saying the president has not been tough enough, calling it a crisis of leadership. did the president mean to refer to unfolding events in the muslim world across the middle east as a bump in the road? was that a mistake?
>> let me be clear here, thomas. the president has talked about how the middle east is going through historic reforms right now. when he gave his speech in cairo, 3 1/2 years ago, he said these reforms will not be on a straight line. we know this is going to be hard. and we're committed to do it. it's pretty rich coming from a candidate who every time he dips in foreign waters it's a disaster. the president has killed osama bin laden, december a mated al qaeda, brought the international community together to rally against iran.a mated al qaeda, brought the international community together to rally against iran. he's shown leadership that speaks for itself. and so we're not going to be drawn into this ridiculous debate with a candidate who has shown no ability to serve as commander in chief. >> and because of the recent turbulence that we've seen eript egypt and watch that country
turn democratic, the president also facing of not meeting with president morsi. this is what morsi told cbs news this morning. take a listen. >> translator: it was warm, it was not hot. >> what's the difference in warm and hot? >> translator: it's the same difference between friendship and being an enemy. we are not enemies of course. >> but you are friends. >> translator: for sure. we are friends. >> allies? >> translator: the u.s. president said otherwise. >> so jen morsi finishing up his statements concerning whether or not egypt is considered an ally or a foe at this point. egypt has always been an ally of this country, a very important ally of this country. has the president sent mixed
signals to our allies? >> no, i absolutely do not think he has. as you know, spoke with president morsi just in the last ten days. he spoke with president netanyahu in the last two week. they had more than an hour long conversation. he has ongoing dialogue with these leaders as do secretary of state hillary clinton as does many people from his foreign policy team. and he's committed to making sure we're doing everything we can to address the issues that are going on in the middle east, making sure we can protect diplomats who are serving overseas. and this is something he wakes up every day and is focused on even long before the crisis happened just a few weeks ago. >> the president's campaign is launching a new offensive on romney over taxes, the 47%. here's what the president had to say in that taping with "the view." >> governor romney on "60 minutes" was asked does he think it's fair that he pays a lower
tax rate than somebody making $50,000 a year. and he said yes. i think it's fair and i also think that's the way you get economic growth. i've just got a different vision about how we grow an economy. i think that you grow an economy from the middle out, not from the top down. >> so jen the campaign is also out with a new tv ad targeting governor romney. at this stage should the president be more focused on laying out specific policy proposals, specifics for those undecided voters out there that are really going to turn this election instead of wasting time attacking mitt romney? >> well, the president has laid out countless specifics whether it's the american jobs act or whether it's his plan to responsible bring down the deficit by $4 trillion. this is specifics that are coming out of our ears specifics. mitt romney -- this debate and the issue you raised is more about how they see the country and mitt romney has made clear and i was watching that interview with absolute
disbelief as i'm sure many americans were that he thinks people making $50,000 a year, that's a fire fighter, a nurse, a teacher, those people should pay 1 a. higher rate than people making millions. and this is a real difference between their views of the world, that i views of country and what their priorities are and how their prities will impact their plans. and that's a central debate in this election over the next 40 something days. >> i have to ask you, though, because you've been getting a lot of krcritics about the fact that the president would sit with the ladies "the view" and not take any one-on-ones. and nothing wrong with the interview with helthem, it's ju the timing. why not wait and instead of opening up such a vulnerable attack from the right. >> the most important thing here is that the president speaks to these world leaders all the time.
he speaks his national -- we're talking about a short chunk of a day where he had the opportunity to speak to millions of people across the country, as well. so there's always a balance that he's striking as governing the country, as dealing with world tragic events and as being out on the campaign trail. he's doing the best he can in striking that and he'll continue to make -- addressing the events in the middle east a top priority over the coming weeks. >> i'd be happy to have him here. >> i'll tell him that. >> jen, thank you so much for your time. nice to see you. so just minutes from now, mitt romney will sit down with nbc's brian williams to offer his ideas for turning away our failing schools. it's part of nbc's education nation summit and we'll take that interview live from the new york public library as soon as it happens. but joining me right now is u.s. secretary of education arne duncan. it's great to have you here.
mitt romney and others have accused of president of putting teachers unions ahead of school kids, the prime example what we've seen out of chicago that put some 350,000 students out in the cold with no classroom to go to. what do you say to the krcritic that are using that example? >> it's a false choice and we all have to work together on behalf of children. obviously no one wants a strike. teachers did not want it. but at the end of the day, chicago got to a great place. they have a great contract that honors and respects teachers and values as the professionals they are and it continued to help drive the reform movement in chicago. so we need to put politics and ideology to the side. we have to educate our way to a better economy and we need to stop pitting people against each
other. >> would not thiromney said it t the state level, not the federal level. we need to get the federal government out of education. do you agree with that leadership vision and approach? >> i think there's an appropriate federal role, there's an appropriate state role, there's an appropriate local role. i think where there's a huge contrast is what president obama and i fundamentally believe is that education is an investment. we all have to work together to make sure every single child has a world class education. congressman ryan's budget, they view education as an experience, something that can be cut. so we've invested hundreds of millions of dollars. probably the best investment we can make. we want to continue to invest in k-12 reform. we want to kin to make college more affordable. we've had the biggest increase in spepell grants since world w ii. the contrast under congressman
ryan he ryan's budget, they would cut head start programs, significantly less resourceses for children with disabilities and children who live below the pofrly line and potentially devastating cuts to higher education. that's not where we need to go as a country. >> we'll leave it there for right now because as we've been telling everybody this morning, mitt roy in thmney will be spea with brian williams from the new york city public library. they're not ready, but as we talk specifically about mitt romney and what you're talking about what congressman ryan's budget plan, mitt romney's specifics are more about vouchers, so that people can choose school choice systems like a charter school for their own kids. where is the distinction in that? because one thing heralded in chicago is the the fact that 52,000 kids there actually went to school -- excuse me, let's go into brian williams with mitt
romney. >> thank you, everybody. let me assure you there are more burly people with weapons in this building right now than ever before. but enough about steve's senior staff. we are very grateful that governor romney has chosen to join us today. we have heard from the president so far today in his interview with savannah guthrie as steve mentioned while he was appearing here on tape, he was it at the podium over at the united nations. governor romney has asked to address you you before we begin the q&a. so he will to that. i will remain off to the side. i'll come up, lead the questioning. and then we will take audience questions from both himicrophon.
so with our thanks for being here with us and addressing this topic that is so dear to us, ladies and gentlemen, governor mitt romney. [ applause ] >> thank you. it's an honor to be here with you and i appreciate the chance that nbc is giving us to come together to talk about a topic as important as the education of our children. i also enjoy the chance to see brian williams, an american hero. a real champion, a man of character and integrity. it's an honor to be here with him, as well. let me take you back to my own experience. i'm thinking of my children, my five sons. and the experience that i had in watching their education and participating in it. i was lucky to live in the state of massachusetts because our
state has and had at the time very good schools. as a matter of fact, i was pleased that while i was serves as governor, the nape exam which tests our kids every two years in english and math, the results came back our fourth graders came out number one in the nation in english and also number one in math. and our eighth graders came out number one in english and number one in math. so in all four of the federal measures that evaluate the effectivenessness of schools, our kids were number one. that had never happened before. and i looked back to understand why our schools had become so succe successful. and i think it goes back to 1993 when my president sadecessors c together to reform education and they made a number of changes that i think are what helped drive our schools to be so succe successful. one they said, that to graduate from high school, a student was going to have to pass a graduation exam in english and math and i added science to
that, as well, when i was governor. two, they worked on a statewide curriculum. it took a number of years, but they had a series of elements they felt students needed to learn. three, they would evaluate annually the success of various schools. all the schools actually. and if a school consistently fell below a passing grade, then the state had the capacity to step in, take over the school, remove its leadership, and actually remove elements of the union contract if they believed those elements interfered with the education of a child. beyond that, i had the chance not just to have this, if you will, the stick if you can't pass the graduation exam you can't graduate, i also worked to put in place a carrot, an incentive. while i was governor, we passed legislation that said that if you took the exam to graduate and you were among the top quarter in your high school in terms of the grade you got on that exam, then you were entitled to the john and an
about a gail adams scholarship, which was four years tuition free at any massachusetts public institution of higher learning. was four years tuition free at any massachusetts public institution of higher learning. in massachusetts, feeses are a lot more than tuition, but it was none the less help and support for young people who were working to get at a higher education. we also in that 1993 legislation opened the door to far more choice by offering a massive expansion in charter schools. that went along with our catholic schools which had long offered extensive choice in massachusetts. and perhaps the most important single thing from the education reform effort that went on was increased focus on the teachers, on hiring the very best and brightest we possibly could, promoting them and giving them opportunities to be successful in the classroom. my experience there was consistent with something i read as i was serving as governor.
and i read work that was done by a group called the mckenzie institute. it's a major international consulting firm, but they have a not for profit foundation which does research around the world. and they looked at school systems all over the world, compared nations which ones were successful, finland as i recall, singapore, korea, south korea, as well as places within the united states that were successful. they looked at the boston school system, for instance. and looked at all the differences between school stri districts and they said, first of all, within a normal band of population, that the classroom size didn't seem to be driving the quality of education, that -- obviously at some extreme that would figure into it, but within the normal range that exists in schools, it wasn't classroom size that was driving it. nor was it spending per student. they were surprised by both those things.
their conclusion was that overwhelming the greatest determination -- or determiner he of the success of the school system was the yacht of tqualit teachers in the system and that the very best nations and districts in terms of education were those that found a way to at trabt ttract the best and br. any pointed out in fin land i think it was that teachers were drawn from the top 5% or 10% of college graduates and they pointed out that too often in our country we're not drawing from the very top and they tried to understand why that was. and pointed out that in other nations, they had better starting salaries for teachers. and they promoted teachers based on their capacity and their skill, the act they had to change lives in classrooms as opposed to their tenure alone. they looked at our schools and felt that we were too focused on pensions and post retirement benefits and tenure and not sufficiently focused on starting
salaries and helping people get going in their life if they got a lot of student loans, they need those starting salaries to get going and also a system which promotes teachers based upon their success in the classroom. i look at the federal level and i understand that if i'm the next president of the united states as i hope to be, that i don't want to step in and try to run schools for local school districts or for states. education is largely run at the state level. but i do believe that there is action i can take at the federal level that will have an impact on improving the quality of education and it flows from my experience both as governor and from the experience that have studied education such as the mckenzie institute. and the proposals that i have, first of all, i would take idea money, i would link that money
not to the school districts or to the state, but to the student. and say to the student you can take that money to the school of your choice. so you and your parents can decide what school you want to go to. and that of course will drive a very different level of school choice than we have today. to help the parents make the choice of which school to send their child to, i would insist that schools are graded on a simple basis that parents can understand. a through f. the way florida is done. florida has actually done quite a job in saying how can we ele value eight the success of schools and then give to students the opportunity to make the choice of which school they would like to go to. you know some of the statistics from florida. some have said it's going to be hard for hispanic students to be able to keep up with the rest of the population. not so. in florida by virtue of those two changes, if you had a state that was just comprised of the hispanic students of florida,
that state would fall right in the middle, rank number 25 of american states. and that's been in part because of these extraordinary improvements that have baby brougbeen brought into the school system in florida. so those are two things i would do at the federal level. give students more choice, allow parents to have access of information about the quality of schools. and also create incentives for school districts and for states to offer more choice in schools, to take away the barriers to charter schools, to take away the barriers to cyber learning to allow students to choose public schools, public charter schools, where it's allowed by law private schools, or cyber learning or even tutorial type sessions. i want to encourage new choice and new information for our parents. let me make a comment about higher education, as well.
higher education is also essential to the success of our economy and to the well, of so many of our fellow citizens. and we have slept institutihave institutions. we're a model for the world. but one trend in higher education gives me great concern and that's the rapid growth in the cost of tuition. the cost of higher education. and we're on an unsustainable path there. you can't continue to have higher education tuition grow at a multiple of the rate of inflation. at some point something has to give. and we have to find a solution. i have ideas myself in that regard, but i do believe this is something that can't go on. and related to that is the fact that people coming out of institutions of higher learning can't find jobs. and the combination of more and more expensive tuition and fewer and fewer job opportunities this last year with half of our kids graduating without being able to have a full-time job or one consistent with their degree,
that's a real problem. and those two combined must end or we'll have a real threat to our higher education system. so i applaud the chance to be able to speak with you today. your willingness to be here. i'm absolutely convinced that for us to maintain our leadership of the world economically, morally, militarily, diplomatically, that america must be the have the ben the word and ld and we know ther is to invest in great teachers. teachers are the answer. thank you. [ applause ] >> i've asked for water for both of us. >> thank you. >> thank you again for appearing here.
let's begin with a story from the which i of chicago and something very basic about education and labor. in your view, should teachers be allowed to strike? >> i don't know that i would prevent teachers from being able to strike, i just think the most important aspect in being able to have a proceductive relationship between the teachers unions and the districts and the states that they're dealing with is that the person sitting across the table from them should not have received the largest campaign contributions from the teachers union itself. we have a very unusual system in this country. it's not just related to teachers unions. it relates more broadly. but people are able to give -- in the case of the democratic party, i don't mean to be terribly partisan, but i kind of am, in case of the democratic party, the largest contributors to the democratic party are the teachers unions. and so if they can elect someone, then that person is supposed to be representing the public vis-a-vis the teachers union, but actually most of the
money came from the teachers union. it's an extraordinary conflict of interest. that's something that should be address addressed. but allowing them to strike on matters such as compensation is a right that exists in this country, but i to beliedo belie person across the table is representing the public and students. not the union. >> and another issue that came out of chicago, in your view, what percentage of a teacher's salary should be determined by test scores? >> dwri don't know that there i fixed percentage, but i do believe there should be some connection between the capacity of the teacher to move students grade level to grade level and their compensation. and how you measure that i'm sure we could learn from the experiences of different schools, i saw a study that was done this boston where they looked at a student in a classroom and how many improved a full 2k3wr5id grade by the end of the year and there were some
teachers that regularly moved virtually all of their students a full grade level or more. and there were other teachers who regularly were unable to do that. my view is those that are able to do that should be able to be more highly compensated. and should also potentially become mentor teachers with additional compensation and those that are unable to do that should either develop that skill or perhaps find another path in the education world or another career all together. that will be few and far between that can't make it in the profession they've chosen, but i do believe those that perform the best however you determine is the the most effective way to measure that should have an opportunity for better compensation. >> this is our third year in a row for this conference. early childhood education looms large as you might imagine every year. and you know the stats about the achievement gap. you know all that can happen or doesn't happen in a child's life before wintkindergarten.
summer slide is a die namic that puts kids behind. so kids turn six, seven, they're already falling behind. any initiatives ultimate bring you would bring to early childhood education? >> i remember being with a group of teaches again in boston and i said you can predict which students will stay in school and be successful and those that will drop out? and how early can you predict that? and the teachers all began nodding their heads. they said i don't know that i want to have this on camera. we had a camera in the room at the time. so the camera left. and one said if a parent teacher night, fif the parents show up, then the child will be just fine. if the parents don't show up night after night of parent/teacher conference, that kid probably won't make it through high school.
the involvement of parents is an enormous advantage for the child. so both in terms of early education and continuing throughout their career having certainly an advantage to have two parents, but even then to have one parent that stays closely involved with the education of the child and can be at home in those early years of education can be extra ordinarily important. i also do believe that there are many programs that have been highly effective in early education. right here in new york city, jeffrey canada has a program in harlem that's been just remarkably successful in helping bring young people to a posture where they're ready to learn by the time school starts. and those type of efforts should be evaluated one by one. >> you were lucky now attend kran brook. the cost of a fuel year is
$38,900. do you think we owe as a nation every pupil in america the equivalent of a $38,900 education every year? >> i don't know that a dollar number always equates to how effective the teacher is. i was delighted to have a terrific education at a private institution. that's not available to the entire nation, but will there are teachers in the public system that are every bit as good as those in the private teacher. my fourth grade teach are may ha may have been the best i ever had and she was dedicated to helping her children develop the skills that they needed to succeed. i don't know that i place a dollar figure on it. in the state of massachusetts, dollar spending per pupil wasn't a very good determining factor of how well the student would do. i remember at one point i looked at all the school districts in mass marks we have 3 a 551 citi
and up to, and i plotted spending per student against the achievement of each student in each district. because we test our kids every year, we could see which were doing best in math, english and science. and there was no relation at all. and as a matter of fact, the district that spent the most per pupil and had the smallest classrooms, cambridge, their kids were in the bottom 10% of our state performers. so i realized it's not just money, that it's a focus in how you spend the money, the trating the best and brightest in the profession, promoting the best, measuring the performance of students, giving the students the incentive to excel that's why we put in place the adams scholarship. so i reject the idea that everybody has to have full a harvard 1k3e7bs expense level degree to be successful. a lot of people have degree from
the a lot of our different institutions that are successful. some doesn't even complete an education and they're successful. but the key is creating families that can support their child in education. >> let's talk about your school choice initiative. you and i last talked about it during our last interview in london prior to the olympics. maybe the antithesis of kranbrooy is denby high school, highest number of returning prisoners in to society of anyplace in the nation in that zip code. among the highest in gang activity. until it was taken over, it had a 20% success in graduation rate. the kids, if they have a way to get to cranbrook, who is going to worry about denby, who will support that high school, say
nothing of the physical plant and so many of our schools are crumbling. what's your solution for denby after the kids leave for better options? >> well, i don't know denby terribly well, but i was in philadelphia and i saw a school in the innercity of philadelphia, it looked like it had been built in the last five or ten years. i think it was k through eighth grade. and i understand that the school was closed down, that 90% of the kids were not reading at grade level. so the school was unsuccessful. a guy named kenny gamble, african-american, songwriter, got -- took the school over. put this place a charter school. and i went and toured the school with him. saw the students there. i went to a classroom where they were learn to go use computers and became computer literate. i went to a room where they were singing and they were in a glee qulu club. he said all the kids mart pay
the in glee club. i said how do you afford music teachers, art teachers, computer classes. he said i run this like a business. this isn't impossible. s as i recall, almost 90% of the students there now are reading at grade level. and it's the same students. in my view, this is not a matter of saying where with can he send a lot of money. we have proven that sending a lot of money to failed schools to pay the same teachers to do the same things will not make any difference. the real key is leadership in drawing the best and brightest of the profession, giving them the right incentives, promoting the very best, helping our students have discipline, insisting on the maparticipatio of parents. i fought hard to have parents have a training class before they sent their kids to school. i wanted parents to have to go to a class to learn about education, to learn about the culture of education, to support their child.
i got some resistance from folks who said the poor ont have time to go to your class. i said i'll hold them on sundays, weekends. i want people tound the importance of parental involvement. an area that is economically depressed, the schools can be the best in the nation. look, this is a matter of the leadership of the schools, the quality of the teachers and the incentives that exist on the part of both parents and teachers for excellence in education. and there's no question, you take the very worst school districts with the most troubled student bodies and you put in some of the best administrators and faculty members and those schools will turn around. a guy like kenny quinn has proven it. if the regular public school can't succeed, put a charter school in there and let them take a try at it. >> you have said some things about secretary duncan that are so complimentary, you've had to apologize in front of some
republican groups. the question is, under a romney administration, would you ask secretary duncan to stay on? >> i haven't chosen cabinet secretaries, but what i liked about and like about -- >> would you consider it? >> i'm not putting anybody on my cabinet right now, brian. it's a little presumptuous of me. but what i like about him is he said, look, i want to have this race to the top program which will give grants to states that encourage innovation and specifically to say we're going to compensate teachers based upon their performance. which i think is the right thing. we'll insist on more school choice. i think that's the right thing. so i like the fact that he encouraged those things. i think there are other things i don't go along with. he wants to promote at the same time a national curriculum. i prefer to let states and communities decide their own curriculum.
but i do believe that his focus on more choice and creating opportunities for the best teachers to be better compensated is a good idea. teaching is a profession. i understand the interest of the teachers union and the teachers union has every right to represent their members in the way they think is best for their members. but we have every right to in fact say, no, this is what we want to say which is in the best interests of our children. and i believe in the best interests of our children is to recognize that teaching is a profession, like your profession, like my profession, like lawyers and doctors. and the very best are more highly compensated and rewarded and measured. we don't just presume that because we've been here for a certain number of years we should get more and more pay every year. instead, we get measured. and if teachers say there's no good measurement system, let's look for one. let's see what does work. let's see if we can agree on some kinds of measures and learn from those things. but i want the best teachers to
be highly compensated. i want starting teaches, plau particularly those with a track record of excellence in learning, i want them to be well compensated, to be drawn into the profession. education is about teachers, great leadership and parents. and the union has a different objective. i understand it's fine for them to promote it. it's not fine for us just to go along with it. >> one or two more questions and then we'll go to the audience. secretary duncan does talk about identifying and borrowing best practices to use an expression in your world from all over the world, from in-finland or singapore or south korea. it is true that in the past some american education toit are have been a little arrogant about not taking on what works overseas. would you embrace best practices from other countries? >> of course, recognizing that there are differences between different nations and the cultures of different people.
there are differences between different states. that's one reason why i wouldn't impose what we did in massachusetts on the entire nation. people can learn from our experience. we learned from the florida experience. that's one of the most relevant experiences of the most recent contraries is to see the reforms jeb bush and his legislature put in place and the positive impact that's had on the performance of students in that state. we learned from various states, from various school district. we learned from nations around the world. they learn from us. and cataloging those things. i remember back in the business world i was in, if we were making wheels, we had a business that made wheels for trucks. would i would have loved to look at all the truck manufacturers and see what they were doing differently than us. we would have learned. but we didn't have a lot of truck wheel factories to go tour. and so best practices were limited to the handful of places we could visit. with schools we have tense of
thousa ten tens of thousands of districts we can learn from. when i looked, i thought classroom size was the only thing i could do to make our schools better. it was a factor, but not the big one. the big factor was the quality of teacherses and how to reward the very best and give people more choice. so do i want to open up our ears to what's being said around the world, the helessons being leard around the world, yeah, there's nothing good that can come from that. >> audience, we'll come to you shortly. just to be clear, you aren't claiming you invented the wheel. >> yeah. >> what do you make of common core? >> i think it's fine for people
to lay out what they think that core subjects ought to be and being able to provide that learning to our kids. i don't subscribe to the idea of the federal government trying to push common core on various states. it's one thing to put it out as a model and let people adopt it as they will, but to financially reward states based upon accepting the federal government's idea of a curriculum is a mistake. and the reason i say that is there may be a time when the government has an agenda that it wants to promote and i'm not wild about the federal government having some kind of agenda that it then compensates states to teach their kids. i'd rather let education and what is taught state by state be determined state by state, not by the federal government. >> last question from me and i see more than a few people have lined up with questions for you. your dad went on a poverty tour of 17 cities. back when the need was absolutely acute in this
country. and yet at this conference what's coming up more and more is poverty. again. and what a component it is in education. how many teachers have to worry about poverty at home while trying to educate children. would you consider something akin to what your father did? >> not only would i consider that, but i get the chance to do that from time to time and that's why for instance i was at the school in philadelphia was seeing what's happening there. why i was at jeffrey canada's preschool program in harlem to understand what's happening there and the impact of poverty. and you've seen the film waiting for super man that he figures in quite prominently, he goes back to talking not only about the school, but the home where the children are coming from and how -- he has a program for parents that are getting ready to have a child to prepare the parent to help the child be able as to learn.
we have to start very early. so i do in fact embrace the approach that my dad took. take that to a great greel myself. did when i was governor and will continue doing that if and when i'm president. >> governor, thank you. we'll go to questions with the explanation that this audience is diverse, there are teachers, there are student, policymakers, even people who god forbid might be pushing a certain agenda. so we'll see what we get. yes, sir, go ahead. >> governor, first of all, thanks for being here. brian williams asked who is responsible for the kids at denby high school in detroit. i am. i'm state superintendent of schools in michigan and i need to tell you that my personal shame frankly is that we have not been able to make this a better place for kids who are in poverty. and it's rural poverty and it's urban poverty. and i think in my work in seven years in this job now without being able to move the ball much in those places where there's
high poverty, our focus on college and career ready brings me back to one thing. we don't have kids kindergarten ready. and until we can get kids kindergarten ready and be able to read at grade level by third grade and then they need to read to learn from there on in, we haven't been able to crack that. and it comes back to kind of the early childhood question. what specifically would be your solutions to get kids kindergarten ready? >> i described that we do have programs like head start. we can evaluate where they have been effective and where they've been less effective. there are a number of private institutions. i happen to be one of those take that helped get behind and start finance a group called bright horizons learning centers which has been highly effective i believe in preparing young people for education. but i also don't think there's any substitute for the home. and efforts to teach people who are having children about the
needs of a child and preparing for school and preparing to be educated. i think those efforts are also critically important. that is going to happen in some cases at the hands of government, but also in the hands of private institutions. in boston an effective effort was carried out by those that led a group called the ten point compaalition and these are lead of largely african-american churches in the innercity area that made a real effort to reach out to homes and to change the course of the social life of people who were falling away from school and away from education. so the combination of public and private partnerships as well as early learning centers can help make a difference. but i also can mote that as you look around the world at the places where the schools are doing the very best and young people are achieving, they found ways to prepare children for
school which is not always associated with having the government take over early education, but instead in some cases it does, but in some cases as well it focuses on the parents. >> let's take a question from this side of the room. >> good morning. ed massey from the commonwealth of kentucky. i serve as president of the national school board association and sit on the national pta board, as well. and i want to know a little more in detail how you view local school boards and parental involvement in the process of educational reform. >> well, we have great organizations that represent the teachers. we have great organizations that represent the parents. but i'd like to see them have more clout. i'd like to see parents very much involved in evaluating the success of schools. if we had a more transparent system for evaluating the success of a school a through f, i think schools ought to have report cards the way they do in florida. and if we had that, then if
parents saw their school get a c or d or worse, those parents are going to be outraged. and they'll want to gather together, become part of pta organizations and talk about taking back the school. we can't say and you have choice to go somewhere else. that's a good thing to have that choice, but wes also have to fix the school itself and parents are oftentimes going to be the impetus, the energy behind real change which must occur in a lot of our local school districts. i imagine you found the same thing. is that right? >> i have. and sitting on a local school board for 16 years, i've found that the community engagement is so powerful, if you have parents in schools and you've engaged your community, the school will be successful. regardless of the circumstances. that's what i've found. >> that reminds me about the point about the boston teachers who said if the parents show up at parent/teacher night, the kid will do just fine. and that just underscores the impact of parents. the idea that somehow schools
are entirely separate from the home, from the economic circumstances of the home, from the social experiences of the home that's just not reality. the home is an integral part of the education system and the best teachers in the world can't possibly overcome a home pulling in the drift directiifferent di. that's why i proposed in my ste that the parents had to go to a training program to learn about the impact of education. i wasn't able to get it done. it's something i wanted to do and something that has merit. we have to pull the parents into education because they are an essential part of the education experience of their child. >> thank you, governor. >> we have just minutes remaining in our prearranged time, so we'll try to make some something more of a lightning round. go ahead. >> good morning. i'm a former new york city public schoolteacher. so my question is about the
common core. 45 states have already chosen to adopt it. and here in new york city, we are full on implementing. and so my question is since so many states have already adopted, what resources would you give our states and our teachers to actually implement this successfully for our children? >> well, the states have adopted it on their own. and if they've adopted it freely and think it's a good program, they should be able to implement it. we developed our own core in the state of massachusetts. we implemented it on our own. and we're able to outdrive our kids to be number one performing in the nation. i don't happen to believe that every time that there's a good idea the federal government should not finance the implementation of that. we certainly didn't. states have responsibility for the education of their children, their respective borders. and i'm not looking for more federal spending. i mean, i know it is the nature of politics for someone in my
position to promise more free stuff. we'll send money, we'll do this, and people say he really caress about education. i really care about education. i care so much about our kids that i don't want to saddle them with trillions on trillions of dollars of debt when they come out of school. so i'm not willing to add more spending to get people happy with me. i'm willing to say, say look, sedcation is done at the state level, the federal government provides spending for special needs students and low-income students but in terms of implementing the common core if you've chosen it, congratulations, work on it and do it within the resources of your own state. >> another question from over here. >> governor romney, i'm a new york city parent and member of the school board elected in new york city. you talk about choice, but charter schools represent only 4% of the schools at least here in new york, vouchers don't really fill the bill. for new york city parents at least, and urban parents, choice means improving all of our
public schools because otherwise you're nibbling at the edges or we'll spend the next 100 years fixing it. how do you create choice through our public school system? what do we need to do? how would you do that? how would you change our school system so we have choice through our public schools for everyone and not the small minority maybe going to charter schools or vouchers or private schools? >> first of all i note each state and actually each district in each state has a different experience. in my state we had much more ample opportunity for choice in part because of the number of catholic schools we had, as well as the number of charter schools we had, but we also could allow students to go to other public schools. they had the capacity not just to stay within the school of their district, but to go beyond. i understand in the case of florida, that their school choice program allows students not to just go to charter schools, but also to other public schools of their choice.
and they provide students the capacity to make that selection and i think that -- i can't tell you what can be done here in new york city but i can tell you it helps a young person to know that they have the ability to make a school choice that they think is consistent with their education needs and that if you tonight have any charter schools that's going to mean choice of different public schools. fundamentally, choice is one of the ingredients of improving our schools, but the key is really the teachers and the schools we already have. and rewarding the very best and brightest, attracting the best into the teaching profession, treating them like the professionals they are, giving them the support they need to have and some cases recognizing that the interest of the teachers union may not be entirely coincident with the interest of the students. i don't think we have to put our kids and the teachers first and the teachers union behind. i don't know whether waiting for superman was an accurate reflection of some of the issues
in the new york city schools but if it was it was very troubling. >> if i could say one thing n new york city the parents here, support the union to protect our kids three to one over the mayor and the chancellor. that's a recent poll. so, to say that the unions are holding back our kids, as a parent and as parents in polls said, the opposite. they believe that the unions are fighting for our kids and that a lot of the reform has been holding back our kids and against our kids and that this is not -- this is not me. this is coming from a pofl parents. >> i don't believe -- >> in chicago. >> i don't believe it for a minute. i know something about polls, and you can ask questions and get any answer you want and i know this, that having looked at schools, i know that the teachers union has a responsibility to care for the interests of the teachers. and the head of the national
teachers union said at one point, we don't care about kids, we care about the teachers. that's their right. but the people who are on the school boards and the parents, they're the people that have the primary interest in the kids. by the way, there may be politicians that don't get it right but i believe you have to recognize that a union has a different constituency than the parents have. and the people elected to represent the kids whether doing a good job or not i don't know. i can tell you this jeb bush stood up to the teachers unions in florida and that made a difference and arne duncan by standing up for the kids, has made a difference. i believe that we simply -- we simply can't have a setting where the teachers unions are able to contribute tens of millions of dollars to the campaigns of politicians and then those politicians when elected stand across from them at the bargaining table supposedly to represent the interest of the kids. i think it's a mistake and we got to get the money out of the
teachers unions go into campaigns. we have to separate that. >> my name is nic. i'm a high school student from new york and wrote a book on education. my question is considering that the advent of standardized testing has increased to historic levels, teaching to the test, billions of dollars into testing and really the killing of creativity in many ways, how do you change this trend and put students directly in your administration and let them have a voice in this policy decision-making process? >> first of all, you will find throughout your life that there are tests and i don't know a way to evaluate the progress of students over by evaluating it through testing of some kind or another. if there are tests that are ineffective or that measure things that are not really relevant, why, obviously, you try to improve the test but you'll have an s.a.t. when you graduate from high school, want
to go into graduate school you'll have an advanced test, g-mat or other test and find throughout your life there are going to be tests. we complain about them. i complained about them when i was a student and we don't like tests but there's no other way we found out to determine whether a student is succeeding or not succeeding or teacher succeeding or not succeeding. i don't have a better model than saying we're going to evaluate our kids than through a better testing system. we had this graduation exam. i took it because i would hear from teachers we're having to teach to the tests. i took the exam and i passed it, by the way, but -- although i took it at home so no one really got to see my answers, but, you know, when it got to the math section there was geometry, algebra, calculus, trigonometry. these are the topics. i don't know what teaching to the test would mean if it were not teaching basic math skills. on the language side, i read
paragraphs and then i wrote down or excuse me checked off the things i'd seen in the paragraph. if teaching to the test means learning how to read and write and do basic math skills then there's nothing terribly wrong with that. i added science and so people are going to get tested in biology and geology and so forth. this is part of what we expect schools to do. what i was concerned about before we had these kind of tests is that we might have faculty members go off on a different tangent from the basic math and english and science skills our kids these to succeed. i'm not going to replace testing. i would love to improve it. when no child left behind was passed the author said we'll let each state create your own test and evaluate how well students are doing. i'm going to keep in place the testing and as with regards to student involvement, i hope students are very involved in the political process and in the process of the quality of your
education. i would love to have the students grade the teachers at the end of the year as opposed to just the other way around. so that teachers get feedback. we did that when i got to graduate school. we got to grade the teachers and it was published how each teacher did on a whole series of dimensions and helped the teachers. i believe in a lot of feedback. far from being a guy who would say let's stop testing. i try to make our testing more fec tv, expand it in ways maybe that haven't been thought of before and recognize we need to drive the quality of education and it's one tool we have to do it. >> going to harvard business school makes you good at taking tests in the future. governor, our teach has reached its conclusion on behalf of all of us affiliated with education nation, thank you very much for taking our questions. [ applause ]
you've been listening to brian williams talk with governor mitt romney about his thoughts, his leadership vision for this country when it comes to the nation's education. basically letting all of us know he feels it should be to the state level, the federal part of the influence should be very limited and also saying that he's not looking for more federal spending, hard choices to be made but saying he's looking out for kids down the line and not having some larger deficit when they get out of school. that's going to do it for this hour. don't go anywhere, "now" with alex wagner is coming up. i know a lot to talk about because we've been seeing both mitt romney and president obama back and forth this morning from cgi to the u.n. and now the mitt romney and education nation. >> it is a big day in the big apple, thomas, with everything from education, foreign policy and free speech on the menu. it is tuesday, september 25th, and this is "now."